A Review of Naomi Novik's Uprooted

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For my Fantasy Literature class, I had the pleasure of reading Naomi Novik’s new novel, Uprooted. It’s been a long time since I’ve read YA, having dropped them after getting sick of the poorly written ones, so I was shocked at how much I loved Uprooted.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.” In the first sentence of the book, Novik flips genre expectations around. There’s a Dragon here, but he’s not the kind you expect. The world presented in Uprooted likes to play with readers. Here, the prince isn’t necessarily a good guy, court life proves as menacing as the Wood (the novel’s antagonist which drags people into it and torments them), and saving people doesn’t mean they come out unscathed. Novik presents a three-dimensional world that keeps readers guessing.

The novel’s heroine, Agnieszka, proves a strong female lead. She reacts to the scenarios she’s thrown into with surprising realness. She cries at the painful, retches at the horrific, and gets angry at injustices done to her. Yes, she’s also a capable magician, but Novik makes sure not to reduce her down to only that. She makes mistakes, but manages to learn from them and keep going. Perhaps she’s a bit unbelievable in her ability to master powerful magic, but what good fantasy protagonist isn’t?

Not only does Novik feature one powerful female lead, but she also offers another, and along with it: STRONG PLATONIC FEMALE FRIENDSHIP! Agnieszka and her best friend, Kasia, fight side-by-side through the course of the novel. The two have relatively few issues, and those they do have don’t tear them apart (as we frequently see in YA). Instead, they work through them, and become even closer as a result. Novik even frequently implies that their friendship is stronger than the romance, for Agnieszka will go to any lengths in order to help her friend.

Which brings me to another of my favorite elements of the book: the well-balanced romance. I’m always down for a good romance, but I’ve found books (and other media) that place the romance at the center often do so at the cost of the plot, while media that shoves the romance to the side generally has characters jumping into relationships for no apparent reason. Uprooted does not have this problem. From their first interaction, it becomes apparent that there will be chemistry between Agnieszka and the Dragon, but Novik takes her time building it up. They start out bickering, slowly come to an understanding, then mutual interest, but Uprooted does this through subtle moments, that don’t take away from the plot.

Overall, Uprooted presents an intriguing world with strong female characters and a well thought out plot that keeps you turning the page.

It’s also getting a movie sometime in the future, but I wouldn’t wait around for that to start reading.

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About The Author

Just an English nerd drowning in words. English major with a Film and Media Studies minor. Aspiring to write many novels, films, television shows, and video games. Avid reviewer of movies, theatrical productions, videogames and pretty much anything you can possibly review.